Prof Heather Harrington

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Keynote speaker

University of Oxford

Heather Harrington obtained her PhD in 2010 from the Department of  Mathematics at Imperial College London. She joined the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford in 2013 as a Hooke Research Fellow and EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellow and was affiliated with St Cross College and Keble College. Heather Harrington was promoted to Professor of Mathematics in 2020. She now has affiliations with St John’s College as a Research Fellow in Mathematics and the Sciences and the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics an Associate Group Leader. Her research focuses on the problem of reconciling models and data by extracting information about the structure of models and the shape of data. She develops methods relying on techniques from computational algebraic geometry and topology to study complex biological systems. She is the Co-Director of the Centre for Topological Data Analysis. She has been recognised for her research with a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, London Mathematical Society Whitehead Prize, University of Cambridge Adams Prize, and a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Mathematics and Statistics.

Talk

Computational topology and applications to biological data

Biological processes are governed by interactions at multiple scales (genomic, molecular, cellular), which are now captured by multiple modalities (multi-indexed data) at different spatial resolutions. Understanding complex biological phenomena requires mathematical approaches to elucidate dynamics, predict mechanisms and reveal function. With the wealth of state-of-the-art data at unprecedented depth and scales, new approaches are required to extract meaningful and interpretable biological insights. This talk will present computational topology methods, relying on persistent
homology, that provide insight and quantification to geometric structures arising at multiple scales in biology, such as protein structure and cancer/immune microenvironment.